Runners including Loose Women presenter Andrea McLean will run 10km (6.2 miles) in their underwear on May 27 to inspire others to be proud of what their bodies can do, whatever their shape.
The Celebrate You team – some just wearing underwear – will join other runners at the Vitality London 10,000, which starts on The Mall and finishes opposite Buckingham Palace.
Runners will pass famous landmarks including Nelson’s Column, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey.
While most runners will be wearing a little more than just knickers and a supportive bra, some of the Celebrate You team – which includes The Great British Sewing Bee’s Esme Young and author Giovanna Fletcher – will be wearing sports underwear to show that fitness is for everyone, whatever their shape.
The team also includes plus-size model and mental health campaigner Jada Sezer, who completed the 2018 Virgin Money London Marathon in underwear alongside her friend, journalist Bryony Gordon.
Sezer says the event will be “incredible” and is a good chance for people to try running in a “safe space” without feeling intimidated.
“You don’t have to run. You can walk, skip, hop. For someone starting that journey, it’s a really good stepping stone,” she told the Press Association.
She said Celebrate You is about changing people’s perceptions about what healthy bodies can and should be like, adding: “We just want to make a stand that fitness looks different on everyone.”
Although tourists may be surprised to see women running in a sports bra and knickers during the bank holiday Monday race, Sezer said it is similar to what some elite female runners wear, except “we have got a lot more body hanging out” and so it is considered “revealing”.
Sezer, 30, from west London, said she wore similar dresses to her peers when she was younger but got more attention because her breasts and bottom were larger.
“Why can’t we just see women’s shapes as functional and not sexualised?” she added.
Sezer, who has an MA in child psychology, was approached by modelling agencies after she posted photos of herself on Instagram to encourage young girls to celebrate their shape.
She said exercise makes her calm, clears her head and energises her but she does not do it to try to lose weight and suggests that should not be anyone’s main reason for running.
“Why are you doing this? If losing weight is to fit in with what society thinks you should look like, then who cares?”
Speaking to the Press Association during Mental Health Awareness Week, Sezer, who has worked with YoungMinds and The Prince’s Trust, said running helps her to feel “I have got this”.
Sezer said she is thankful to social media for giving her a career and “a voice” and believes it can be a good tool for teaching young people that everyone is different.
“With social media, you can see a better range. People are braver. They are able to find their tribe with a hashtag.
“If you don’t see it, how do you know to be it?”
But she regularly takes a break from social media, goes on “unfollow sprees” or temporarily deletes apps to break the habit.
She suggests others limit the time they spend looking at other people’s perfect-looking lives on “aspirational” apps such as Instagram, where “it seems like everyone is wealthy and happily married with clean, well-behaved children”.
“Live a little bit more in the real world, not the online world,” she advised.
– To sign up to run the Vitality London 10,000 on Monday May 27, go to www.vitalitylondon10000.co.uk/celebrateyou before 5pm on Friday May 17. You do not have to run in your underwear.